Various Artists

Ask the Sky

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Those curious about the state of Japan's pop scene would do well to track down this Japanese compilation that inexplicably also includes tracks by Westerners Redd Kross, the Posies and Edwyn Collins. Though some of the Japanese bands here take the worst elements of British indie-pop and magnify them, a few make something enjoyable out of Western influences. Starwagon demonstrates an enjoyably on-the-spot Teenage Fanclub imitation. Roof and Samantha's Favourite offer equally raucous rock that owes a lot to Pavement, Big Star, Neil Young and other American rock heroes. Best of all though, are the Penelopes, who take pop cues from across the decades and strain them through leader Tatsuhiko Watanabe's discriminating vision.